Lyra Garcellano, Gaston Damag, and Catalina Africa at Silverlens

Lyra Garcellano with Jeff Carnay for Taxonomy

Three generations of contemporary artists make up the Silverlens Galleries’ offerings for the month:  a celebrated Filipino artist in his 50s who now lives in France, a painter in her late 30s from the seminal group Surrounded By Water returning to performance art, and a young artist barely two years out of university experimenting with abstraction. Continue reading

Disco Bombs, Suspended Leaps, and Shadowplay Explode At UP Vargas Museum

The UP Vargas Museum seems to have become a pretty exciting space this past year.  While it had always housed an important

By Jose Tence Ruiz

collection of paintings and memorabilia, it has transformed into a significant venue for contemporary art. In the past few months, we have seen a series of  exhibits by artists represented by Manila’s leading commercial art galleries.  Consequently, university students have gained access to works by artists critical to the current art scene.  Credit must go to curator Patrick Flores. And this latest trio of shows that he put together, all three that opened simultaneously this week,  definitely underscores this  development . Continue reading

Gaston Damag's Synthetic Reliquaries

Gaston Damag grew up around bululs.  Raised in  a family of craftsmen, he even admits to having parlayed his woodcarving skills into creating reproductions for tourists in search of these antique rice gods.  Today, even as he constantly exhibits in France and in other European locales, his Ifugao roots resonate very vividly in his art installations and performance pieces.  His artistic psyche is inextricably linked to the world of the Cordilleras.       

In this show at SLab, Gaston reworks pieces originally done for a Parisian museum.   Instead of using wood, he casts his bululs in resin polyester to irreverent proportions.  He brings these symbols of tradition and ancestry to the modern age, juxtaposing them against steel scaffoldings, fluorescent bulbs, and electrical drills.  He forces us to examine, as he probably does himself, how this change in context and medium affects how we look at a figure so associated with rice rituals and ancient beliefs.  Does it retain its mystique?

This is Gaston’s first major show in the Philippines, and for that reason alone, this show is worth visiting.  It brings something different to our art scene, and I can imagine, incurs varied reactions from viewers.  Alongside this, the Silverlens group brings us two other exceptional exhibits:  Stereo I, collaborative works by Christina Dy and Juan Cagicula and Paper Panic, works on paper from Dina Gadia and Mark Salvatus.

Thank you to Rachel Rillo for these photos.  My amateur attempts would not have done justice to Gaston’s pieces.

Synthetic Reliquaries runs from 13 January to 13 February 2010 at SLab, 2F YMC Bldg, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.  Phone (632) 816-0044 or visit